Franka Emika’s Panda History
Franka Emika is a German company founded by Sami Haddadin, a robotics specialist at the University of Munich. Like the revolution brought by personal computing, he believed in commercial robots that could have safe and close interaction with humans. That’s why he wanted to create cobots that could be used by everyone.
With Panda, Franka Emika’s team achieved to create a programmable cobot that can adapt to many tasks while being inexpensive. It stands out in particular for its great sensitivity and ease of deployment, which makes it popular among SMEs. But it also seduces a lot of researchers, educators, and craftsmen.
Let’s see how it really fares in the current cobotic market.
How do you control Franka Emika’s Panda ?
It all starts with setting up Panda. Once delivered to you in a single package, you can easily mount its arm and initiate task processing. The Pilot interface allows you to step-by-step code the right movements on your cobot. On it, you can choose different applications and tasks programs and control the order of their execution.
Depending on the added input device, you can then teach it precise movements thanks to the hand guiding mode. By pressing and holding the upper control buttons, you can replicate the desired task with varying degrees of freedom.
The safety settings stop the process whenever you press the buttons too hard or release them. This ensures you can manipulate the arm freely without fear of injury.
When you’ve finished executing the precise gesture, the interface automatically records it, and you just have to trigger it to check how it processes it. Through this back-and-forth interaction, you can teach Panda to hold objects, tighten a screw, open doors, and so on…
What does interaction with Panda really look like?
Panda learning experience is very intuitive, even if it requires some practice and dexterity. The touch interface is first very easy-to-use when it comes to coding tasks visually.
Panda’s hand grasp control is also fluid and light, giving a pleasant feeling of control. However, you need to know how to grasp the handle correctly to guide the movements of the robotic arm precisely. But the grippers and other custom tools are very effective for taking, holding or drilling small objects.
With the Franka’s World Cloud Library, Panda can learn many working applications as well, including those based on machine learning and vision computing. Even tough Franka Emika doesn’t provide a lot of indications on custom programs, it’s nevertheless easy to add them as it’s an open-source library software.
What to make of Franka Emika Panda cobots ?
All in all, Panda cobots embody the best of current robotic research in one model. Thanks to reliable german engineering and advanced sensing technologies, they provide promising innovations in user experience, safety, and object manipulation. But they might lack some applicability in industrial settings with modest technical specs. So for now, they will find more momentum in specialized workshops, labs, and robotics schools. One reason is their outstanding value for money and open source software environment. And that’s fair.